“Lay down and surrender to your mind” sings Josh Landau, “it knows your answer every single time….”
And you’re kinda tempted to leave this review there, to do the equivalent of a mic drop on Microsoft Word and go “boom!”
Because, that’s nailed mental conflict, right there. On “Dancing On A Razor Blade”, the second song on “Cruel World”.
Almost like a “welcome back” to The Shrine, this four tracker is from a revamped band that now features Corey Parks (ex of Nashville Pussy) and as you’d expect she brings an added rock n roll sass to things.
So if The Shrine had previously sounded like a mash up of Helmet jamming ZZ Top covers with Suicidal Tendencies, then they’ve now added a bit of Motorhead too.
“Cruel World” ushers itself in with its title track, a huge slab of mid 90s sounding menace. Chunky riffs abound and the solo here, when it rips out of nowhere is one of pure hard rock exhilaration. If you’re going to re-announce yourself then you’d best believe you should do it like this.
Even better, a band that grew up as outsiders has plenty to discuss in 2019. “Atom bombs, and plastic cars, colour tv screens, with broken Hollywood stars….” Pretty much has the maelstrom sorted.
But as good as that is, then the aforementioned “…..Edge” raises the bar. Just about the perfect intro as to what The Shrine have always been, it is a jewel of a track.
“The Taste Of Blood” begins with a half spoken delivery reminiscent of The Hold Steady, but this is punk packing a flick knife, not on its way to a killer party, as it were. “The taste of blood is sweet,” spits the hookline. “When its your enemy in defeat…..” The inference is clear. The Shrine will not be beaten. And you dare take them on.
There’s even time for a foray into something 80s metal before the end. I don’t mean Poison and the likes, but take yourself back to 1980 and there’s a chug of early Maiden about it – and Parks’ bass here is sublime.
It’s hard to know what I like more. Four track EP’s, which always make me nostalgic, or three piece bands, which always rule. But when those two worlds collide to create something this good there’s no point in resisting.
Out of this “Cruel World”.